Starting Your Own Website

Tips and advice on starting a website.

So you've decided you want to start your own website. There's a lot to do, including finding hosting, figuring out what features you may need from a host, figuring out how you're going to design your website, and much more.

First, what kind of website are you starting? Is it going to be primarily information, or are you selling things? Is it a more personal page, or is it aimed at everyone? If you're starting a personal page, then you have a few options. You can check out geocities.com and other major sites, which give you templates and host your site for free (but you are limited in what you can do with it). You can also search the web for "free website hosting" and check out a few different plans.

If you're aiming more at a business or large information site, start out by searching for "free website hosting" and check out the plans you find. Many are free up to a point, but will charge you if you want certain features or more pages than they provide. Expect to pay for web hosting; but don't spend a fortune on it. There are very good sites that will host your site for less than $100/year with very good features (including form responses, e-commerce, unlimited pages, graphics, music, and much more). Search around before settling with any particular company. Check prices and features so you get what you want.

You also need to decide if you want to purchase a domain name. This means that instead your address being http://www.hostprovider.com/yoursitename, it will be http://www.yoursitename.com. Most hosts will allow you to use a domain name you've purchased. Check out the rules before signing up with any particular host. You can purchase a domain name in several different places on the web, for $8 - $12. If you think that you will EVER want your own domain name, purchase it now. It will confuse people if your website address changes later on.

Most places will have templates that you can use, with a fair amount of freedom of input and design. Most also allow you to use HTML, if you know how. You can design your pages either using the site templates (most are very good), or using an offline, Windows or other program. Use software that you feel comfortable with, whether it is a site template, an offline program, or pure HTML. Know what you want before you even start designing your site.

You must also have an email address where visitors can contact you. You can choose to get email from a major provider (yahoo, hotmail, etc.), or you can have an email address hosted at your site, if you own your domain name. Some hosts may also provide you with email; check the packages. If you're unsure how to set up email on your site, go with a major provider (at least for now).



Lay out your design before you put it on the web. Have your hosting package purchased, your email address set up, your title chosen, and your pages listed before you even begin to set up your website. Then, go to your site and create your homepage first. Put your title on the top and state your mission (what is your website about?). Also, put an "under construction" notice, so that people don't think your site's broken if pages are blank.

Then, add pages to your site. You should arrange these alphabetically (or some other logical order) so your visitors can easily locate things. On each page, put a brief statement about what's going to be on the page (just so visitors don't wonder why the pages are blank). Be sure you have a "contact us" page. If you can use form responses, it's a good idea to put one of these on the contact us page. People are much more likely to use a form response than an email address.

After that, you have to start getting your content up. If you're working by yourself, this may take awhile (unless you pre-wrote a lot of it). Try to find volunteers to help you out (you can advertise at some sites for free). You may end up with a team of writers who will work for free for awhile (or maybe permanently if your site is non-profit). You will also get your content up a lot faster.

Try to reach your audience right away. Submit your site to the open directory at. This will submit it to major search engines. Go on message boards that are related to your topic and post your site's address (NEVER go on un-related message boards or post your address too many times; this is spamming and it's illegal). For example, if your site is aimed at teens, go to teen sites and find their message boards. Give teens some advice and leave the link to your site at the bottom of your message. This is perfectly okay, as it gives teens a further resource and is relevant!

If your site is about commerce, look into advertising online. You can buy space on all sorts of different websites, depending on how large your advertising budget is. You can also sell advertising space on your page to make money (but you can't charge very much when you have few visitors, so wait until you have a decent number of hits everyday).

If your site is information-related, have a resources page that links to other sites. Visit other, established sites in your genre and make contact with them. Perhaps they will link to your site if you link to theirs (it's not only about competition, it's also about cooperation!). Make sure you're always scoping out other sites in your genre, to see what sort of material they're using, how prominent it is, how successful it seems to be. This is less important for information sites than for commerce sites, but you should still do it! And you may end up with real partnerships that could benefit you both, as well as your audience.

Continue to build your site. Make sure you respond to any email you receive in a prompt manner, and update your site frequently (daily if you can). The more your visitors perceive you being in contact with them, the more likely they are to come back and recommend your site to others -- whether it's e-commerce or advice.

© High Speed Ventures 2011